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Atlas V rocket launches two communications satellites

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United Launch Alliance launches its Atlas V rocket to boost two satellites for SES of Luxembourg from Complex 41 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Fla., on Tuesday. Photo by Joe Marino/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/13d60b980c6b3f750a8399de8ac5a120/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
United Launch Alliance launches its Atlas V rocket to boost two satellites for SES of Luxembourg from Complex 41 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Fla., on Tuesday. Photo by Joe Marino/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 5 (UPI) -- Two new communications satellites are deployed into space after launching aboard an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Fla.

The United Launch Alliance launch went smoothly with liftoff at 5:36 p.m. Tuesday, followed by the jettisoning of the Atlas V's three solid rocket boosters two minutes later and the separation of its first stage about 4.5 minutes after liftoff. The upper stage of the Atlas V, known as the Centaur, then climbed high enough to deploy its payload of two communications satellites.

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The SES-20 and SES-21 satellites will use their own propulsion to place themselves into a circular, near-geosynchronous orbit about 22,300 miles above the Earth's equator. Once their orbits have been adjusted, mission control will run a diagnostic to make sure they are in good shape after the launch. The satellites will then fulfill their intended role by broadcasting television to the United States for SES, a telecom company based in Luxembourg.

ULA, which oversees the mission, aims to launch future communication satellites in a similar fashion, emphasizing that "proven hardware coupled with next-generation technology created an affordable and lightweight spacecraft, enabling two satellites to launch on a single rocket."

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